Why are agile methodologies key in software development?
Agile methodologies are some of our favorites, as they are the working models we use at Nuvolar to develop our solutions. Thanks to these frameworks, we can develop high-quality applications faster and with more convenient technical methods. Partly, this is because these procedural frameworks prioritize partial deliveries of the developments, allowing their elaboration through iterative cycles. In this way, continuous feedback helps to improve the application and adapt it to the needs of the client and end users.
Do you want to incorporate solutions and applications to streamline your company’s processes and learn more about agile methodologies? Continue reading to learn all the details.
Software development before agile methodologies
Before the emergence of agile methodologies in 2001, the software development process required a large amount of documentation. This documentation also had to be available before the start of code programming. Often, the technology business analyst would write a document with the requirements and functionality that the customer needed from the application. These business requirements briefings were very extensive and included all the details of the project.
Based on this document, the developers prepared their own technical requirements document. In this report, they defined the application architecture, data structures, object-oriented functional designs, and user interfaces, in addition to other non-functional requirements. This development process — known as waterflow — continued with the coding process. This step was followed by integration and finally testing. The whole sequence could take up to two years before bringing the application to the production phase.
As you can see, this method was not flexible at all. The introduction of changes during the development of the application was complicated and delayed the delivery time. Consequently, when many of these developments were presented to the customer or released to the public, they were already obsolete. The needs of the company and the users could change in two years.
What are agile methodologies and what are their main characteristics?
All this changed in 2001. During this year, a group of renowned software developers found commonalities in the alternative work methodologies to waterflow that they were using. Among the members of this group were Ron Jeffries, Ken Schwaber, Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, and Jeff Sutherland. Together they wrote the Agile Manifesto, a document that brought together their shared proposals on how a contemporary software development process should be structured. To summarize, three of their main premises were:
- To rely on collaboration over documentation.
- To privilege organization within the team, rather than rigid management practices.
- To promote the ability to manage change rather than accept the rigor of waterfall development.
What do these methodologies consist of?
We can define agile methodologies as evolutionary methods based on timely and iterative processes for software development.
In summary, these methods are characterized by:
- Focus on collaborative development. Users and stakeholders actively participate in the evolution of the product together.
- Minimize unnecessary work and excessive documentation. The less time spent on paperwork, the more time that is available to spend creating the application.
- Accept that uncertainty is an intrinsic part of software development and that it is difficult to control changes.
In Agile methodology, work teams are multidisciplinary and composed of diverse professionals. They all possess the necessary skills to execute the work.
Considering that the goal is to develop a working technology solution, the team must ensure the correct functioning of the applications from start to finish. With this goal in mind, the database, business logic, and user interface of the application are developed and demonstrated in parts. In other words, it is not necessary to wait until the entire software is finished to test and present it. To this end, team members must collaborate and frequently meet to ensure that everyone is aligned with the objectives. It also helps l to verify what everyone is doing and how the product is developing.
We can summarize the advantages of these methodologies as follows:
- Greater capacity for rapid response and adaptation to change.
- No excess of formal processes.
- Constant communication between project team members.
- The client receives information on the development of the project throughout the process.
How do agile methodologies influence software development?
Implementing an agile procedural framework with the principles and characteristics above results in higher quality applications in less time. It’s also worth mentioning that it allows the use of more suitable technical methods in the development of tools. The methodologies we are discussing emphasize adaptability and flexibility. Therefore, there is no up-front definition of answers, as with the waterfall scheme. Instead, the problem is broken down into rapidly developable modules to test with users.
Under these conditions, it is easy to check if something is wrong or if any details are missing It is also immediately possible to adapt the effort to reinstate the original approach or change it if necessary. In the agile approach, each team member contributes to the solution and takes personal responsibility for their work.
Today, agile methodologies are adaptable to web and application development for almost all purposes. Moreover, agile development frameworks and processes prioritize the delivery of software solutions iteratively and encourage feedback. This ensures that teams tailor applications to users’ needs and expectations.
Another favorable consequence of agile development is that it facilitates a process of continuous improvement. Indeed, the solutions developed require constant updating of their functionalities and support. Therefore, the iterative nature of these methodologies helps to establish a culture of continuous improvement.
What are the most commonly used agile methodologies?
There are many agile methodologies practiced for software development. Each of them allows different levels of flexibility during the process. Below, we will briefly mention some of the most commonly used ones:
Scrum is a model suitable for projects whose requirements are constantly changing. It consists of delivery cycles called sprints and structured meetings to:
- Plan the sprint and establish sprint priorities.
- Engage the team by reviewing a list or backlog of user stories which helps to define the amount of work for the sprint.
- Update the development status of the sprint.
The sprints culminate with a meeting demonstrating the functionality of the product to the customer. This demonstration is followed by a retrospective team meeting to discuss achievements and improvement requirements.
Extreme Programming Model (XP)
The success of the Extreme Programming Model (XP) methodology depends largely on the team’s technical expertise and commitment to collaboration. In short, it consists of developing several small versions of the application. This reduces the costs generated by changes in requirements. The work dynamic involves pairs of developers who execute a simple design and whose code is continuously improved by considering user feedback.
At Nuvolar, we use the Lean methodology.
Lastly, we will discuss the Lean methodology. This is the methodology we use at Nuvolar to approach application development for our customers. This scheme of work focuses on creating highly usable and easily manageable software for users. It includes the most beneficial and necessary functionalities according to the purpose of the solution. With this objective in mind, we propose short iterations to design, build, test, and analyze a prototype with minimum requirements.
At the end of each iteration, we present partial deliverables to the client. Then, we restart the process to incorporate new requirements and make improvements, if necessary. The idea is to avoid wasting time and resources. This also allows us to perform customized and quality development within the agreed deadline.
At Nuvolar, we can do it all! We have a great team of multidisciplinary professionals who understand your needs and those of the users of your applications. We are experts in custom software design and development, and highly-experienced in working with UX and UI design criteria. Our services include product development and implementation management, as well as consulting and post-deployment support. Contact us to learn why we are your ideal partner for cloud solutions!
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